Classical music

Sadistic and repellent and thrilling: Mascagni’s Iris reviewed

7 December 2019 9:00 am

If you’ve ever felt that poor Madama Butterfly had a bit of a raw deal, then you really, really don’t…

Handsome and revivable but I wasn't moved: Royal Opera's Death in Venice reviewed

30 November 2019 9:00 am

Premièred within two years of each other, Luchino Visconti’s film and Benjamin Britten’s opera Death in Venice both take Thomas…

Meet the unrivalled Sun King of early music, William Christie

23 November 2019 9:00 am

Richard Bratby is granted an audience with the feisty master of early music William Christie, who’s celebrating 40 years with Les Arts Florissants

Why are Haydn’s operas so lousy? La fedelta premiata reviewed

16 November 2019 9:00 am

There’s a book about musicals that every opera lover should read. Not Since Carrie by Ken Mandelbaum is a history…

How a City lawyer conquered the hardest piano work ever written

9 November 2019 9:00 am

Charles-Valentin Alkan played the piano faster than Liszt and louder than Chopin. The dying Pole left instructions that only Alkan…

In his new piano concerto Thomas Ades’s inspiration has completely dried up

2 November 2019 9:00 am

There’s nothing like a good piano concerto and, sad to relate, Thomas Adès’s long-awaited first proper attempt at the genre…

The joy of Malcolm Arnold's optimistic, hummable tunes

19 October 2019 9:00 am

Never meet your heroes, they say. But if you grew up with classical music in the 1980s, there was fat…

Everything you always wanted to know about classical music but were afraid to ask

28 September 2019 9:00 am

Novelist, essayist, painter, poet, composer. Oh yes, and pianist: Stephen Hough does all of these things very well — and…

Simon Rattle’s Messiaen is improving with age

21 September 2019 9:00 am

Two flutes, a clarinet and a bassoon breathe a chord on the edge of silence. As they fade, the sound…

The rude, ripe tastelessness of John Eliot Gardiner’s Berlioz is the perfect antidote to Haitink’s Instagram Bruckner

14 September 2019 9:00 am

Conducting is one of those professions — being monarch is perhaps another — where the less you do, the more…

Why did the Soviets not want us to know about the pianist Maria Grinberg?

7 September 2019 9:00 am

Only four women pianists have recorded complete cycles of the Beethoven piano sonatas: Maria Grinberg, Annie Fischer, H. J. Lim…

Needed a shot of Stolichnaya: The Tchaikovsky Project reviewed

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Grade: B+ I’m not sure about ‘Projects’. Aren’t those what ageing rockers produce, in a haze of sedatives, when their…

Why this première felt important: James MacMillan’s Fifth Symphony reviewed

24 August 2019 9:00 am

All symphonies were sacred symphonies, once. Haydn began each day’s composition with a prayer, and ended every score with the…

Bracing and provocative – but would Wagner have approved? Arcola's Rheingold reviewed

10 August 2019 9:00 am

When it comes to the opening of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Mark Twain probably put it as well as anyone: ‘Out…

A sonic masterclass: the Silesian String Quartet at Wigmore Hall reviewed

20 July 2019 9:00 am

Of all the daft notions about the classical music business, the daftest is that it’s a business at all. Seriously:…

Testosterone and passion: Royal Opera’s Marriage of Figaro reviewed

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Another turn around the block for David McVicar’s handsome 1830s Figaro at the Royal Opera — the sixth since the…

Easily the best thing I’ve seen at the Grange Festival: Falstaff reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

‘Tutto nel mondo e burla’ sings the company at the end of Verdi’s Falstaff — ‘All the world’s a joke’…

The composer sir Michael Tippett. Credit: Erich Auerbach/ Stringer

This concert proves it is time to take Michael Tippett seriously

11 May 2019 9:00 am

In Oliver Soden’s new biography of Michael Tippett, he describes how Tippett wanted to open his Fourth Symphony with the…

Richard Ayres' The Garden at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Image: © Mark Allan

Hearing Gilbert & Sullivan on period instruments was a revelation

27 April 2019 9:00 am

‘I consider that music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all,’ wrote Stravinsky in one…

Mark Tully, presenter of Something Understood, in New Delhi in 2015. Image: Shivam Saxena/ Hindustan Times/ Getty Images

Why was Something Understood cut?

27 April 2019 9:00 am

It was never given the choicest slot in the schedule, airing first thing on Sunday morning with a repeat at…

The early death of Lili Boulanger is the most grievous of all among composers

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Total immersion weekends can prove tricky. The established masters don’t need them, while lesser-known figures often turn out to be…

Why did Parry's Judith vanish?

13 April 2019 9:00 am

‘When a man takes it upon himself to write an oratorio — perhaps the most gratuitous exploit open to a…

Aurora Orchestra's Brexit concert nearly turned me into a Leaver

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Back when the UK was assumed to be leaving the European Union on 29 March, the Aurora Orchestra was invited…

The fall of Daniel Barenboim

23 March 2019 9:00 am

A few years ago, I hooked up with a BBC team in Berlin to record a programme with Daniel Barenboim.…

Scala Radio is a real threat to Radio 2

14 March 2019 9:00 am

It’s not surprising given the way that electronic communication has taken over so much of our daily business, minimising human…